Jays Care to lead Challenger Baseball program

The Jays Care Foundation, the Blue Jays' charitable organization, announced Thursday that it will assume leadership of the Challenger Baseball program.

The announcement was made with Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar and 30 Challenger Baseball participants in attendance.

Challenger Baseball aims to empower children and youth living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities by teaching participants the core life skills inherent to baseball, including teamwork, communication, determination, resiliency, inclusion, support and courage. Jays Care will now run Challenger's day-to-day operations, and it will also fund the program and provide participants with uniforms and baseball equipment.

"Jays Care is incredibly proud of the more than 1,400 children and youth who currently participate in Challenger Baseball programs across Canada, and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make the program possible," said Robert Witchel, executive director of Jays Care Foundation. "This unique partnership with Little League Canada and Baseball Canada will ensure that more children will have the opportunity to join a team and become more confident and independent as they swing for the fences and track down flies just like Kevin Pillar and the rest of their Blue Jay heroes."

Jays Care has also partnered with Little League Canada and Baseball Canada to establish the Challenger Baseball Advisory Committee, which features experts in adaptive sports programming. In total, Jays Care has invested $460,000 to date in creating accessible baseball diamonds across Canada.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.